Sunday, May 14, 2006
At the successful completion of the CAT preperatoy training program and followed by the resounding success results in the IIM selections, the T.I.M.E team organised a seminar in which they had called all the successful students for a Information, Knowledge & Exterience sharing with the CAT aspirants for the year 2006.
The events took place at Hari Hara Kala Bhavanin Secunderabad and was attended by, among others, the faculty and the management of T.I.M.E.
In the evening there was a party organised to celebrate the success, and all the students who have made it to the B-Schools were invited.
This was an occassion where we had a chance to meet al the folks with whom we had animated exchanges during the classroom programs and hadd heated dialogues during the preperatory mock Group Discussions.
Got to meet a lot of friends whem we had made in the course of the GD/PI preperation post CAT.
Was quite eager to meet Mahip & some oethers who had given everyone including myself a very tough time in the GD's
Amongst the faculty, met Kaushak Sharma, Bharat Jain, Manik Darruvala, Girish Simon & Chaitanya. All of these people had a remarkable contribution of steering our preperation during the GD/PI stage.
CAT is more like an individual game in which the bulk of the effort has to come from an individual, however in GD's the group work and the councellikng sessions became the differentiators between making it and missing it !
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Snap 2 : Calangute Beach minus the blondes minus the brunetters or in short Calangiute beach minus the fun
Snap 3 : Calangute beach, for careful and keenobserves there is gold hidden behind.
Snap 4 : Just before I managed to Rinse my precious Digital Camera
Snap 5 : On Board the Ferry
Snap 6 : The Soaked Gang
Snap 7 : Sky, Ocean and the Horiszon that stands in between. the Beauty of the sand belies the amount of discomfort it causes to the visitors in the hot summer afternoons.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The most profound of them is this one
“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”
Time and over I have planned out life meticulously to the last detail, laid out detailed plans, made room for contingencies and felt confident that this ‘finalized’ revision will finally and at last sail through.
Every one of those times and I really mean Every Single One of those times, I have this searing belief that the last debacle of my plans crashing down was because I forgot to take care of all eventualities and effecting factors.
The realization never dawns that the whole act of ‘Planning and Execution’ is fundamentally against the law of nature, that of ‘Chaos’. Nature wants us to keep working on plans, if at all we choose to make some. Though complete lack of it would mean mindless directionless meanderings, but one should expect to do constant revisions and improvisations as the situation changes and newer challenges keep cropping up.
What's funny is that the moment I start getting complacent thinking that I have got the idea of the game, the very next moment I am in a neck deep pothole; reminding me of my ignorance and my lunatic innocence.
It seems that “The harder you plan out life, the more it kicks you straight at your face”. For now I have taken a change in strategy, I intend to live each moment to its fullest, live my this ‘One Life’. While contemplating any action the two things that I will keep in mind are
- The foreseeable consequences: just the ones that are plainly visible with a clear line of though. No Reading between the lines or Ghost Hunting.
- Follow My Heart: Something I learnt from the wonderful books ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘Jonathan Livingstone – A Seagull story’. After all you get only one life of which you get to see only one snapshot to see at a time, Rewind and Fast Forward facilities are not available, so what better than to use your intuitive capabilities and count on the forces that be, or follow your heart so to say.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Got this really intriguing article as a recommendation from some B-School friends.
This article talks about getting an education equivalent of an MBA sitting right at home and continuing with our professional commitments by leveraging the power of books.
Josh Kauffman, mentions some very valid points to bolster his case to someone who is skeptical of the idea, but before that he takes great pains to set the expectations right. This is something which can really make all the difference between a happy and a sad ending to a prolonged and arduous endeavor.
While I would undoubtedly agree with the general idea that books indeed can contribute marvelously to the learning of an individual, there are definitely contentions which cannot simply be discarded. A people oriented course like MBA could do with dollops of people to people interaction. Was discussing this with a dear friend of mine who is passing out this year from ISB and will be joining a dream Consulting firm. He concurred with my views, regarding the fact that in an MBA you probably learn only 10% of your lessons from the course curriculum per se. The cocktail of the arduous grind and the intense collaborative teamwork in form of assignments and presentations bring about an attitudinal reformation, transforming man, an inherently lone worker by nature to someone who is absolutely at home ijn a team working environment.
Josh of course, is not under any illusions and he makes quick to clear up the loads that needs to be done in order to practice in life whatever is read from the books so as to make it a part of our day to day life, only then does reading all that stuff really make sense.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Thursday, March 30, 2006
With this is mind, hoped into an auto after taking a metro ride to Connaught Place, and it faithfully landed me right at the doorstep of the huge 'Temple Campus'.
Working in Hitech City this is the easiest similie that came to my mind, need not be the best or the most appropriate. The Temple compound was almost immeasurably huge, much larger than the Infosys People Factories constructed across the country.
The first thing that crosses one's mind or rather that should cross the mind is the name of the mandir, Akshardham. The very sound of it preposes great meaning to the planary of nomenclature. Akshardham means the eternal, divine abode of the supreme God, the abode of eternal values and virtues of Akshar as defined in the Vedas and Upanishads where divine bhakti, purity and peace forever pervades.
Read more on this here.
Monday, March 13, 2006
After Kapil Dev if someone really facinated me in Indian cricket, it is the bespectacled engineer fighting silently for a long forgotten entuty, Team INDIA, the "Men in Blue". What stands out is the difference in spirit that he has demonstrated, over and over again, in contrast to his much more superiorly talented, notoriously undisciplined and unscrupulously unsportsmanlike peerslike Rahul Dravid and Co. Unfortunately enough he comes from the same place which is also the roots of Dravid.
The reason for this comparison, inspite of apparent dissimilarities is the two sides of the coin of Indian Cricket that they represent. Dravid had the potential of becoming a phenomenal cricketing sportsman, but he rather choose the more convenient route of being an opportunistic route through the web of Dirty Indian Politics. Irrespective of the credibility or the suitability of 'dada' for the post of Indian team what cannot be digested or believed is that Dravid's intense lobbying had his own narrow vested interests more in mind than the future of Team India. Irrespectove of his calibre and his competence, he deserves of being disqualified from Indian Cricket just on the grounds of performing actions unbecoming of his stature as Vice-Captain of Indian National Cricket Team.
In an unassociated bunch incidents, during the rift period between 'Dada' & Dravid, I was frequently cornered by BangaLURUeans in my office in an attempt to kick a debate as to the relevance and the contribution of 'dada' and his 'dirty games'.
Even though 'dada' was never my pick of players, I was duty bound to defend him , not because I was expected to do so as a BONG, but because these regional sentiment driven folks
(the bangaLURUeans) were discrediting not only Ganguly's current call at the indian Cricket team but also his contributions throughout his career to Indian Cricket. Now this was too much. Ganguly, is no saint but comparing him with Dravid who's sole focus was improvinh his personal game, is like comparing Finance minister's role to that of a domestic housewife. I simply had to show the "LURU's" my middle finger through logical reasoning route. But what hurt me the most is that being throughout brought up in Delhi, I never realised I was a bengali, in fact I was one of the harshest critics of them, I always thought that I was only an INDIAN. It took some Frustoo LURU's to bring narrow regional sentiments into the picture.
Now, I am back! I love praising people for what they have done, the choices they have made, the way they have conducted themselves rather than their dynasty, birth or other no contributional factors. I am back at praising my favourite in the Cricket team, without any concern that with this those LURU buddies of mine would jump out of their seat to claim their common link with my JUMBO, doesn't matter they never till now considered his presence even worthy of consideration.
There are certain joys in life that need no explanation. One of them is watching 'JUMBO' Anil Kumble toss a twirling ball at the start of his run-up and then determinedly trudge in to deliver his ball without any apparent effort. As a bowler, he has been credited with a vital role in many of India's victories in the last decade yet, in many ways, the leg-spinner remains Indian cricket's unsung hero.
I loved this man for the HONOUR he brought with his conduct to the Gentleman's Game of Cricket.
He stood out amongst the hooligans like Miandad, Inzamam, Shoaib and the whole Australian Cricket team who had reduced this sport to a cheap show of antics.
One of the saddest time for me was when Jumbo, as Kumble is known within the team, was dropped during the 2003 World Cup, and with him having to face constant comparisons with Warne and Muttiah, had been discounted with a career long over.
This habbit of whoring is something that characterises the narrow trivial mindset of South East Asians. The tendency of comparisons ignore the principle of Unique Selling Proposition or USP which is the mantra of modern business.
Jumbo need not prove himself against the other good bowlers to prove his way into the team, all that he needs to do is to prove his worth and show how he is indispensible to a strong winning Indian Side.
The silence has finally been heard, the discipline, dedication, Focussed hardwork has finally paid rich dividents. Jumbo has finally etched his name firmly and permanently into the Hall of Fame of international cricket with his 500th test cricket. God truly is fair, Justice Finally is done.
Monday, March 06, 2006
(The metadata tags defined in the Exif standard cover a broad spectrum including:
Date and time information. Digital cameras will record the current date and time and save this in the metadata.
Camera settings. This includes static information such as the camera model and make, and information that varies with each image such as orientation, aperture, shutter speed, focal length, metering mode, and film speed information.
Location information, which could come from a GPS receiver connected to the camera. As of 2004 only a few cameras support this, though. Some people therefore use a normal receiver to track their movements, and then post-process the images by matching the timestamps in the images with the log from the receiver and can so add the missing information to images.
Descriptions and copyright information. Again this is something which is most often done when post-processing the images, as only high-end camera models let the user choose a text for these fields.)
So just in case the information is incorrect in this 'header' the images appear chrnologically disoriented in an image organizer like PICASA.
What was lacking in the market, was free software that could edit this information in batches so that any error while taking the images could be rectified. A Definite WINDOW of OPPORTUNITY for wannabe entrepreneurs. I am attaching such an image with incorrect EXIF information. To see the Exif Information :
In Windows XP, Exif information may be viewed by right clicking on an image file and clicking properties; from the properties dialog click the Summary tab.
On Mac OS X 10.4 and above, this information may be viewed in the Finder by doing Get Info on a file and expanding the More Info section.
Check it out for yourself to see how much 'hidden information' can your photos carry !! :D
(For International Press Telecommunications Council or IPTC information Check here )
Monday, February 27, 2006
There will of course be other sections of socities like housewives, students, Software professionals, Docltors, Engineers and so on who will proceed about the day just as any other working day of the week. But irrespective of who they are or what they do, this is one thing that will have a deep influence on their lives. A lot of things are going to become dearer, a lot of purchases will need to be re-scheduled, a lot of wages will need adjustment and a lot of domestic grocery spendings will need to be re-configured.
The budget holds different concerns for different "agents" of the society. Whether it is an individual, an institution, an organization or an investor. All will be affected someway or the other, some getting a gentle nudge, others getting turmoiled to doldrums. Concerns are hence in-evitable about this. Let me shed some light about the impact on "Indian Middle Class". For ease of description let us take a four member family: Mr. Ram (Aged 38) working as a mid level Marketing Manager in an Indian Company, Mrs. Sita (Aged 34) Housewife by choice and a qualified engineer by qualification, Luv (Aged 12) & Kush (Aged 9) both students at a reputed public school. Although there will be others who will be linked to them, like in-laws at both ends, for the purpose of simplicity, we'll take them to be largely financially independent.
Instead of keeping the analysis at a very generic level, we will take up individual items which are likely to be on the Finance Minister (FM)'s platter.
- Fringe Benefit Tax : If this tax is hiked, Ram's official tours will become more expensive for his company. So while till now he was getting to use economy class tickes from regular airlines like Jet or IC, he may have to switch to Low Cost Carriers(LCCs) like Deccan or SpiceJet. This will also mean that he will have to forego the complementary meals both at the aircraft and at the hotels where he is put up by his company. Moreover the free shared cab pickup that his company provides and the fuel allowance for his personal vehicle may become a thing of the past. To top it all, telephone bills re-imbursements would also be subject to taxation. For Sita, it might mean that she may have to forego the weekend drives that Ram used to take her to. With petrol prices heading skywards and company on the verge of retracting the fuel expenses, this could be an acoidable expense. For Luv and Kush this may mean that missing the school bus would attract a harsher reprobation and may sometimes even lead to dropping off from school for a day, as his dad stubbornly refuses to drop him by his car.
- Exempt-Exempt-Taxation (EET) : Moving from an EEE to an EET taxation system is widely being anticipated. Simplifying the 'latin' here for the non-financial readers an EET taxation implies that investments made for tax saving (like ELSS Mutual funds/ National Savings Certificate/Public Provident Fund/Infrastructure Bonds etc.) will attract a tax on liquidation at maturity. So to say, after the lock-in period when these aqre exchanged back for cash, the cash will now attract an additional tax. Under the EET system contributions to these scheme are exempt from tax (E), the accumulation/earnings are also exempt (E); however, the withdrawal/benefits are taxed (T). (Hence the E-E-T) An Exempt-Exempt-Exempt(EEE) regime on the other hand implies that such investments remain outside the tax net even at the time of liquidation, as has been the system till now. So this will mean that the lucrativeness of the various tax saving investments will be diminished or removed. So Ram can be expected to spend more than he did the last year and hence it seems that Luv and Kush can now have that Cricket Bat which was pending in the shopping list and Sita will have that lovely Microwave oven. Ram, can also opt to go for a family vacation with his new disposable income.
- Customs and Excise duty Cuts : Finally a good news. This would mean almost all the things having imported components will be saving some money. We can expect some of them to be samaritian enough or having significant business foresight enough, whichever way you look at it, to pass on the benefits to the end user. So it finally may be the time for Ram to buy a Santro after bidding farewell to his 7 year old maruti 800. Microwave, cellular phones & Home theater systems are all going to beome cheaper. So all the more reason for Sita to go for that microwave, and in case she is able to spare some money from her day-to-day kitty then she could also opt for a DVD Player Home theater System. Luv and Kush can only hope that Sita would not ditch the plans of the DVD, and so they can finally watch "Lord of the Rings" sitting right at their home!
- Inheritance and TOBIN tax not imposed : TOBIN is a tax implemented on International Potfolio Investments. Inheritance tax and TOBIN are two taxes that the left parties were insistent on. This would not have too much of ramifications on Ram's life as his father was a village school headmaster who had a meager salary, of which he spent the most on education of his two saons Ram and Lakshman. Sita, Luv and Kush too are imune to this one element of the tax.
- Tax on Aviation Turbine Fuel to come down : This would mean that the tax on ATF that airlines have to pay would some down from the present 40% to a more sane amount. Ram and family would be hence more likely to get that Rs. 500 ticket ( + Rs. 221) of Air Deccan as it is expected that LCCs will pass on the price benefits by increasing the percentage of seats available in the lower priced categories.
So Much for Anticipatory Musings. If this is the state of affairs on the eve of the budget, just imagine the catastrophic length when the budget actually comes out tomorrow. God Help Me !!
Sunday, February 26, 2006
With Multiplex pickets evaporating from counters faster than spirit spread out on a petridish, We were left with very little optoins this weekend than to cool our heels at Necklace Road and Eat Street. This is a nice shot taken from there. Beauty , it seems, is also in the lighting of the neclace road. Most Guys of course, wouldn't give a twiddle to this concept of beauty, and more so when we are talking of Hussain Sagar.
"Are you Kiddin? Get Real Dude! There are better things to see there !!"
Below comes the latest in the triology the Cyber Pearl One of the best and most grandiose looking TCS offices.
Set in Red brick and in cylindrical shape this is TCS Deccan park for you
After TCS lets come to a rather eye catchy, yet awkward looking building
This is JVP for you. A Building that hosts three companies Kanbay, EIQ Networks and Agami Solutions with Kanbay taking 90% of the volume pie
But with the sparkling new Campus comming
out beside Microsoft, Wipro and ISB, Kanbay
would soon be moving out of this cramped location
to its rather voluminous new address.
Read a more Descriptive account here
See more snaps here
Friday, February 24, 2006
Came across the latest presentation From the HBS adcom and marketing team, regarding the prospect of their program and the knick-knacks. Liked two things a helluva lot. One is that they have done away with the madatory work experience requirement that most other B-Schools have and the second is the expansive and almost exhaustive financing options that this B-School provides. The later has some obvious advantages for both the school in terms of the intake pool and the aspirant, so wouldn't harp much on that. The former, is like opening up the windows to let some fresh air in. Suitably screened college passouts bring a certain amount of refreshing idealism and romanticism with them. They breathe a lot of energy and enthusiasm and most importantly hold strong to thier beliefs. A welcome change among the war-worn seniors who through their experiences in life often bring with them an overdose of practicality and pramatism so as to even under achieve than the seekable. A suitable blend of Ideology and pragmatism garnished with rich and postive inferences drawn from practical experience often lead to good judgmental outputs.
Anyways, Loved the complete presentation. Went through it over and over again until there was an over bearing of guilt feeling of killing precious time. Made me wonder when I will be able to walk into the corridors of HBS. Lot of students aspire to Kellogg or Wharton for the rich industry interface and the intense network they offer. Makes them better utilise their MBA, at least initially , when they pass out.
For me Harvard remains the temple of modern philosophy, thought and awakening. Incidentally I have seen my taste change over the years, and I have grown into much more of a conformist that the rebel I was in my yesteryears. I have come to realise that my rebellion too was conformity of a kind, I conformed to the commendable act of disagreeing with anything that was widely accepted.
I have overhauled this web-log to reflect the changes that I have gone over the past couple of years. I truly have undergine a thorough re-orientation over the past two years of my active professional life. I have begun to see a lot more and thus appreciate the multi-dimentional aspects of most worldly problems. The next challenge is to develop the ability to skim through chaff to seperate the grain from these, so to say that after apprfeciatiing the multiple dimentions be able to sieve out the crux of the matter from the ocean of nitty-gritties.
Let me know how you like the look and feel of the new site.
I am actually considering moving back from wordpress, which actually is quite buggy even now. Hardly a match for the amount of flexibility that blogger offers me.
Till the time I am able to makeup my mind I will probably dabble between the two
P.S: I have resolved the formatting issues with this site for Internet Explorer. A big thanks to Sugata 'Joy' Bannerji for the same
Monday, February 20, 2006
- I love non-vegetarian food and my favorite in that would be Tandoori Chicken with a Thanda COCA COLA. In ice-creams I love Vanilla with chocolate sauce. I love having all of these in a Shere-e-Punjab Dhaaba. At home my favourite dish will be paalak paneer and Eeleesh Mach(Bengali Hilsa Fish Preperation)
- I am a cocktail of a Delhi-ite and a Bong, think I retain the better half of both. For example I am as headstrong as any Delhi-ite and as Lazy as a Bong. I easily go up in arms to fight for My DELHI. I have stayed in Mumbai and liked it, but I definitely believe that Delhi is way better than that.
- I am an early riser and love listening to music at BIZZARE volumes at the crack of the Dawn. I generally Don’t bite people when they bug me during these spells. I am quite tolerant in that respect.
- I am yet to find out a time when I have actually acted sensibly in front of a girl. The prettier the girl the more clumsy I am. I do not think that there is something actually wrong with me, but only that mad BAD LUCK is all SCREWED UP!
- I like good looking girls, but only as long as they do not open their big mouths and start spilling the ANTI-Matter stuff :P Its actually quite unfair of life that the pretty ones are quite bitchy. I wonder why I always feel for the ones these bitches play with and later ditch off for Greener Pastures.
- I have an obsessive thinking disorder, makes me believe I am a chronological mismatch in the modern era of Instant Noodles. I am probably better suited in the early 16th century in Greece among philosophers like Socrates and Ptolemy.
- I study only what I enjoy studying, and yes a lot of things actually do make an interesting read according to me. Operating Systems, Literature, Stories about our Freedom struggle, Biographies of Mavericks, TIME magazine, NATGEO, Harvard Business Review & Asterix are some of them.
- The ideal way to send my weekend evening would be comfortably resting on a leather couch, with dim defused lighting reading “Gone with the Wind” with soft instrumental music playing in the background.
- I am a bigger admirer of Tim Burners Lee than of William Gates (‘Bill Gates’). I always prefer a pirated version of Windows to a licensed one and provide complimentary assistance in cracking licensed soft wares.
- I am yet to find out what is that single most important purpose of my life. But I am pretty sure, Life is for LIVING and not for the sake of mere Survival. I believe it is the unpredictability in life which makes it truly worth living. Life otherwise would have been a simple equation. Calculate and Be-over with it. Life on the other hand springs the most startling of surprises just when you thouhgt you knew it all!
- I find it difficult to understand how people can eat gluttonously and still stay wafer thin. I hate it even more, that what I like the most are normally on the top of the Prohibited list
- I am outgoing, outspoken, warm and friendly. Make easy friends in minutes and standby them even when all others leave. I have never come across a friend more faithful than I am, and I am not overstatibg facts. Its just the way of life with me.
- I pity those who have a false sense of superiority of themselves, arrogance and imprudence really are a big turn offs.
- I am uncomfortable with heights. ( Darkness does not frighten me and finds me quite unafraid. But despair and hopelessness arrests my free lively spirit. I have the SPIRIT of a STALLION.
- I love my mom, dad and bros. I really am more of a family guy.
- In GOD I trust. I think religion is something more private than one’s private parts. I do not accept interference in these arenas.
- I like to sing even when I am not too sure of the lyrics and I know there are others who are watching me ! ( I am a bathroom singer, a staircase sing, an elevator singer, a bike singer and a jogging singer rolled into one.
- I am intolerable to cruelty, somewhere inside me is that SILLY boy who believes that God resides in us all, we are thus all basically GOOD people. I truly am foolish and romantic beyond rectification.
- I think Life’s been tough at times, but I appreciate the fact that it has given me the courage to Pull on this far! “To save me from the Storm, Is not what I ask of you O God! Give me just the courage to face it”
- I believe in living my life so that my epitaph may read “NO REGRETS”. I have only one life, so I really believe in living it in my terms. As I look back, which I do often enough, I find lots of times when I was real good and then some once or twice when I could have been better. I DO NOT intend to allow the later count to increase.
- I love spending Durga Puja with my family. Nothing, Nothing can really entice me out of that.
- I believe that Indians and Americans can teach each other lots, Indian Philosophy and American Attitudes will make a killing combination. American Babes and Desi Dudes will make a terrific JODI. Similarly American Porn with Indian storyline will be a block buster seller. Imagine the storyline of Hollywood with Matkas-Jhatkas of Bollywood!! I think you get the meaning. :D
- I loved watching Street Hawk, He-Man, Jungle Book, The World This Week, Vikram Aur Betal among others. I never had cable TV in my house so I watched Doordarshan. I hated Krishi Darshan and Gumshuda Talaash Jaankari ( Lost People Information). I was naïve enough to believe that news readers actually memorize all the news articles.
- I am working in a software company and keep wondering why people always put on a front for others thereby complicating a rather simple life. I believe that SIX SIGMA PRINCIPLE is no match for the principles of management taught in BHAGVAD GITA. Six sigma id more of fluff, not much substance.
- I keep in touch with my friends even though sometimes they don’t even care to return the calls. But most of them really appreciate my efforts and more then reciprocate the gestures. Some of the best friends that I have made are people who are the most different from what I am and what I stand for. The only common factor being the common Inner Goodness.
A Passage to India's Future
By STAN SESSER
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
February 4, 2006; Page P1
MUMBAI -- Victor Biswas, a New Yorker who arranges tours to India for museums, alumni associations and other groups of Americans, should be a happy man. He's sharing in the tourism boom to India -- his revenue last year grew 20%.
But instead of celebrating, Mr. Biswas is watching his profits vanish. His agency lets travelers lock in prices 18 months in advance, and he factors in "normal" hotel-rate increases. But five-star hotel rooms have gone up 30% or 40% in just a year. "It's killing us," he says.
Mr. Biswas's experience serves as a glimpse into the flood of change sweeping tourism in India. Travelers are coming in record numbers to the world's largest democracy, which is in the throes of an economic transition. But it isn't just the tourist industry that's being reshaped. The list of must-see places is evolving, too -- underscoring the speed of India's transformation.
In search of this new India, we picked five places that are particularly emblematic of the changes underway -- and then spent time in each of them. In Mumbai, where trendy bars, clubs and restaurants are popping up all the time, the country's exploding affluence contrasts sharply with its well-known poverty. To see how the economic shifts are impacting India's politics, we visited Kolkata, where socialist policies are getting a heavy dose of capitalism.
At the beach resorts of Goa, Indians are spending their newfound disposable income on vacations -- and quickly turning the area into one of the trendier travel destinations in Asia. Udaipur, a city rich with Indian culture and history, is grappling with strains on its infrastructure from the crush of tourism. And while the technology economy of Bangalore is well-known, the burgeoning middle class in the southern city of Hyderabad shows that this boom is spreading to other parts of the country, too.
Overall, we found that getting around India is a lot easier for novice travelers than it used to be. New airlines translate into more flight options, and more restaurants cater to upscale tourists, meaning you don't have to restrict your meals to the hotel for fear of getting sick. Some four million foreign tourists visited India last year, up 15% from the year before -- and that was on top of a rise of 25% in 2004.
But there are still plenty of hassles, from people who follow you down the street to sell you things, to the continued lateness of trains and some airlines. Indeed, thousands of airport workers went on strike across the country this week in a protest against the planned privatization of airports in Mumbai and New Delhi. (For the most part, flights took off and landed as scheduled, despite the strike.)
My swing through India showed some major infrastructure improvements. New highways are being built everywhere. A four-lane expressway from Udaipur to Jaipur, the two biggest destinations in Rajasthan, has cut travel time almost in half to five hours. And a number of airports are being modernized. The infamous, two-hour-long immigration lines at Mumbai airport are now a thing of the past.
Five new airlines have started up in the past two years, and another five are slotted to take flight this year, according to the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation. One example of how this has changed the options for travelers: Jet Airways, Indian's largest domestic carrier, quoted me a fare of $520 roundtrip from Calcutta to Hyderabad. But I was able to book flights on the Internet on two new low-cost carriers (Air Deccan and Spice Jet) for a roundtrip fare of less than $100.
All of these improvements mean it's getting harder to get into the best spots. Two years ago, I was able to book my favorite Mumbai hotel, a renovated British-era apartment house called Shelley's, just a week in advance for the peak New Year's weekend. This year, Shelley's was filled weeks ahead for the entire month of January, and so were six other Mumbai hotels I called. I ended up paying $330 a night for a room at the five-star Taj Mahal -- with no hot towel or welcome drink on arrival, no one to show me to my room, and with breakfast and Internet access not included.
Richard Johnson, director of international relations for Asia at the University of San Francisco, has seen all the problems in his 20 trips to India over the past five years. He's been a passenger in an Indian-made rental car that caught fire and then exploded on an expressway. He was caught last July in a Mumbai monsoon that was so severe that at one point his car started floating. And he's had several bouts with stomach problems. But despite all this, he says, "I'm fascinated with India."
The U.S. has now displaced Britain as the No. 1 source of visitors to India -- some 600,000 Americans traveled there last year. "We had so many people traveling to India that we had to open a second office there," says Pam Lassers, a spokeswoman for Abercrombie & Kent, the high-end international tour agency based in Oak Brook, Ill. Bookings so far this year are already up 55%, she says.
Rajeev Samant, an Indian businessman with an engineering degree from Stanford University, recently moved to a new neighborhood. One big reason: The new bars and dance clubs there "are always buzzing until 4 a.m.," says Mr. Samant, who at 38 years old still prefers dating to marriage, to the chagrin of his tradition-minded parents. Mr. Samant, who sports a shaved head and thin gold earring, returned from the U.S. to start a winery, Sula. "Mumbai is a boom town," he says.
It is the commercial capital of India, but a capital unlike that of any other major world power. Transportation is abysmal, and the face of poverty is everywhere. But it's the best place to see the emerging young and affluent class in India: the cool restaurants, hip bars, the Bollywood stars.
The Mediterranean-fusion Indigo Restaurant, which was jammed on a recent Monday night, is now selling several $100 bottles of wine a day versus about one a month, at best, five years ago. Artists who previously needed a second job to survive are now flourishing, with prices for paintings on average doubling or tripling in the past two years alone. The number of galleries in Mumbai has quadrupled to 20, says Pravina Mecklai, who owns a gallery called Jamaat.
Some of the money in Mumbai is old wealth -- many of the country's old industrialist families still live here. It isn't uncommon to run into the son or daughter of a big textile baron who is dabbling in movie production. But new money from tech and other sectors is also fueling the club and restaurant scene.
In a country that once saw thousands of university graduates each year unable to find work, Mumbai is facing a very new problem, as the expanding service industry fueled by the new yuppie class competes for well-educated employees. "The difficulty is attracting young people to enter the hospitality business," says Raymond Bickson, managing director of Mumbai-based Indian Hotels Co. Ltd., which owns the Taj hotel chain.
As with China, Indians, armed with more disposable income, are now discovering their own country as tourists. This is helping to reshape places like Goa, the southern beach state that was once the domain of backpackers and budget travelers.
Vishal Minda, a Mumbai stock trader, and his wife Sanjanaa, both in their 20s, have visited every year for the past five years, staying at the high-end Taj Holiday Village beach resort. "We've been to Thailand and we're going to Europe in May -- but just one time," says Ms. Minda. "Goa is a place you want to keep coming back to." The state has become more accommodating to Indian tourists, she says. There are now, for example, several excellent vegetarian restaurants.
Shops offering Indian designer clothing and furnishings are springing up everywhere. The cash registers at Sang Olda, a home-furnishings store, were ringing furiously recently when the top executive of an Indian conglomerate decided to celebrate his 50th birthday in this former Portuguese colony. "His guests wiped us out," says Claudia Ajwani, co-owner with her husband. "One of the guests, an Indian who owns an IT company in California, furnished his entire California office from us," she says. "He wanted to 'Indianize' the office."
The attractions of Goa are considerable. Goans are known as some of the friendliest people in India and almost everyone speaks English. The isolated beach resorts are magnificent, and a bargain compared with many other tourist destinations in India.
But Goa can be a downer at the same time. The narrow, potholed main road running along the beach towns of northern Goa is filled with horn-honking, bumper-to-bumper traffic, including beefy tattooed Europeans on motorbikes, riding past miles of schlocky souvenir shops and snack bars.
This city, a popular stop for foreigners with its elegant lakes and beautiful old palaces, has a big problem: not nearly enough places for them to stay.
While the scarcity of hotel rooms is an issue in many parts of the country, it is particularly dire here and other parts of the state of Rajasthan, which attracts more tourists each year than the Taj Mahal.
Some 1.2 million people visited Rajasthan last year -- triple the number that came just three years earlier. The shortage of rooms shows how ill-suited the infrastructure is in some ways for the level of interest in the country these days.
The very rich stay in the palaces, and the backpackers patronize the little guest houses. But that leaves out everyone in the middle. In some cases, room rates in Rajasthan have already doubled from those quoted in last year's Lonely Planet guide to India. Vinod Zutshi, Rajasthan's secretary of tourism, calculates that the state needs at least 15,000 hotel rooms (rated at least one star by the government), or triple its current stock.
The hotel shortage is creating some new opportunities for entrepreneurs. One happens to be the Maharana of Udaipur, whose family ran the state in the days of the Raj but lost all political power a half-century ago. He runs an empire of eight luxury hotels, whose rooms go for hundreds of dollars. But his latest project is the Garden Hotel, a renovated former workers' quarters whose rooms go for $70 a night.
The hotel has been an immediate success. Although it opened only last October, it's already completely full during the current peak season. "It's very difficult to get a room in Udaipur at this price," explains manager Ranjeet Singh.
The lack of hotel rooms should bring the international hotel chains scurrying to Udaipur, but it isn't happening. One explanation is that large cities like Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore have year-round business traffic, while Udaipur's tourism slows to a crawl in the hot summer months followed by the monsoon.
It's a wonderful paradox: a Marxist government is changing this city from an economic basket base to a center for high-tech and other modern industry.
Once a proponent of radical labor laws and powerful unions, the government is now wooing companies with tax breaks and free land, in a bid to return the city to its former glory as the industrial center of India. It's a sign of just how deep-seeded the change in India is.
"Kolkata was a terrible place for so many years," says D.K. Chaudhuri, head of the computer-software company Skytech Solutions, which has offices in three Indian cities plus New York, London and Chicago, yet chose Kolkata to be its corporate headquarters. Now, "it's the most pro-active government I've ever seen. They behave like capitalists, no matter what the rhetoric."
The transformation of Kolkata -- once known mainly for Mother Teresa and abject poverty -- is one of India's great success stories. Downtown, the buildings are grimy, the air is polluted by the ancient buses and taxis, and the sidewalks serve as sleeping quarters for thousands of homeless. But a half-hour's drive away, in the spotlessly clean Salt Lake district, it's another world. Gleaming, modern buildings, reached by broad, tree-lined boulevards, house hundreds of information-technology companies. The city, formerly called Calcutta, also has one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in India, as literature, dance, modern art and music are all thriving here.
Marxist ideology still plays a role in the state of West Bengal, of which Kolkata is the capital. The government has an active land-redistribution program, for example. But "Marxism is not opposed to industrialization," says Nirupam Sen, West Bengal's minister of commerce and industries.
Ashok Hadi, an information-technology consultant at one of India's most-successful companies, knows he could make $80,000 to $100,000 a year -- more than triple his current salary -- if he moved to the U.S. But he isn't interested.
"There are many more opportunities here," says Mr. Hadi, who works mainly with American clients of the Indian software-outsourcing company Infosys Technologies.
By now, many people have heard of Bangalore, the southern Indian city that is home to some of India's most important tech companies. But the rise of Hyderabad -- often dubbed "Cyberabad" -- shows how India's information-technology prowess is spreading to other cities. That, in turn, is helping to reverse the "brain drain" of previous years.
For tourists, Hyderabad offers a pleasant alternative to Bangalore. It has vacant hotel rooms, less pollution, and fewer traffic jams. There's a picturesque Old City built when Muslims ruled the area.
Hyderabad has about 300 information-technology companies employing a total of 175,000 people -- both of those figures have tripled in the past three or four years -- says S.V. Ramachandran, regional director of the National Association of Software and Service Companies, the trade association for India's high-tech industry. "More and more Indians in the U.S. are coming back and setting up operations here," he says.
The headquarters of Indian companies in Hyderabad are as luxurious as anything in Silicon Valley. Consider Satyam Computer Services, which has revenue of $1 billion. Its wooded 120-acre campus just outside Hyderabad features not only strikingly modern buildings, an employee swimming pool and a gym, but also enclosures for deer, peacocks, rabbits and other animals. Staff doctors tend to the needs of employees, while a veterinarian takes care of the animals.
And in Hyderabad, India's second tech hub after Bangalore, a relatively small salary can go a long way. With his $24,000-a-year income, Mr. Hadi owns a 1,700-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment that he bought three years ago for $40,000. He has paid off his car, sends his son to nursery school for $400 a year and has a full-time maid.
Write to Stan Sesser at email@example.com
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Saturday, February 11, 2006
handwriting/penmanship tips: "...you’re probably hoping a fountain pen will do the trick ... If you use a spiral notebook for practice, you can leaf back and see your progress. At first, your strokes and lines will be bad—over-running and under-running the lines, too small, too big, crooked, uneven, just ugly. Check your position; check your muscle groups; and try again. And again."
This is something I have always wanted to do. Have a beautiful typeset handwriting, something that would make my not so attractive writeups too, very very attractive. Now this is when I really realise two very upsetting things in life. One is the importance of the cursive writing workbooks that I had comfortably tossed off in primary school and the other is the amount of role the aesthetic appeal of an object plays in determining the first impression or the knee-jerk rection of an entity or idea.
Its Quite Profound, if I may so add. The other day I was talking to one of my friends about to complete his MBA from a top B-School here. He was cribbing and lamenting about the sexual and racial discrimination that goes on in the placement process. He was refering to the obvious preference that beautiful ladies get over aesthetically challenged men like him. In no uncertain terms he mentioned that the prefference of the selection body is unabashed and unashamed in this regard.
Girls, especially the pretty ones, are definitely first amongst all races that exist in modern civilization. To remove any doubt that may remainin the corner of your mind let me take an examlple. Try to recall the face of Mayawati or Rabri devi for a while (sorry for not being able to find a more aesthetically challenged politician). Imagine for a moment this was not Mayawati/Rabri but was Sonia Ganshi. The Foreign Born Italian Blood Indian Princess.
I think somehow the discomfort in the above scenario is obvios and stark. I do not need to further elaborate on that! Somehow we want the people whom we admire and look up to should be good looking if not outright orgeous. In stories told to kids, Princes have always been handsome, its the villain who reserves the honour of being of Mirror-Cracking material. Somewhere the over importance of looks is imbibed in the psyche of us right from when we are born. Rmember all the relatives ho come over to see a new born and keep complimenting on how goodlooking the baby is! Yes! It starts right there.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
That sort of sums up the last weekend spet at J.P. Nagar residence of my college/hostel buddies. It was a true pleasure meeting them after what was a longish span. Some had changed, few even drammatically, but all in the positive sense. Was particularly impressed by one Maverick guy whom I always found poles apart from me while in college. Had a very dissapointing opinion about him. Boy! Has he changed! Must say that he indeed pleasantly surprised me. Was a true pleasure having his company for these days. I think I am glad that I met him, so as to comfortably dispose-off his previous image, that I had so preciously preserved since college days. Was particularly impressed by one Maverick guy whom I always found poles apart from me while in college. Had a very dissapointing opinion about him. Boy! Has he changed! Must say that he indeed pleasantly surprised me. Was a true pleasure having his company for these days. I think I am glad that I met him, so as to comfortably dispose-off his previous image, that I had so preciously preserved since college days.
In fact quite a few of us have changed in more ways than I thought we could do possibly. Some have lost the innocence, others have been so hardened by reality as to permanently impair their ability to dream, some have become too cynical and sceptical about their past as they bask in the essence of their present glory. All the while comfortably shelving to an unkempt corner of the mind the realisation that it is probably their that so ill-mouthed past that has brought him to this day. But then there are others, as the one whom I referred before who have beautifully bloomed from the promising bud stage to that of a shining flower.
Strangely it reminds me of the great philosopher Benjamin Disraeli,
"Life is too short to be little"
Think Big and you'll be BIG.
You'll be big in happiness,
big in accomplishments,
big in friends,
big in prosperity,
big in RESPECT.
I thank all those friends of mine for the wonderful time I had with them and the splendid memories that I got!
I wish them Good Luck in whatever they pursue and pray that they arrive at their destination happily, content and in Peace.
We sure Rocks!
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Wannabe an investment banker ?
Superb article to read for all those who aspire into one of those coveted "I-BANKS"
Another interesting read detailing about the Investment banking career as such, the demands, the aspirations and the stuff that goes behind can be found here.
Honestly, its a wonderful read and a true blood Eye Opener for those DOLLAR dreaming individuals!!
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Sometimes when you are going at lightning speed in life it becomes all the more to re-instate the previously decided objectives, just so that that occasional straying can be avoided and the progress is consistently "On course".
So here as I sit in my this rather spacious aparment in Hyderabad, much bigger than the one in which I stayed for most of my kid life in Delhi, reminiscing about my pleasant childhood in Delhi and wishing for an instant that I could go back, even for a little while, to that comfort of Delhi, the familiarity, the parental care, the carelessness and the freedom to dream unleashed-unbridled. I get a realization than slowly the journey is becoming tiring and though I am not realizing it this instant, soon fatigue will set in. Before that happens I need to recharge my batteries so as to be Loaded for the next round.
Now, to reinstate objectives would be a simpler cause. But here we are talking of dreams, of aspirations, of hopes, of desires, of unchallant thoughts! Now this is is a different ball game altogether! So lets set forth this small exercise in a simplistic manner, using a Third Party Approach. Idea is to pen down all this guy felt and all this guy was coveting and fighting for when he got down to do a Re-fuel.
I see myself after a fullfilling tenure in professional life moving in for the KILL; an MBA from one of the top B-Schools in the world (Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Kellog, Wharton types..) probably one of the IVY LEAGUES. India is not good enough for me. Good as the IIMs are they still house some guy from CBIT Hyderabad who bumped off his 4 years in engineering preparing for CAT and that roadside romeo from St. Stephens whose B.Com /B.Sc. was spent appeasing his GF from Lady Sriram. NO WAY! I definitely belong to a different league. I have a very bright academic record and spent my 4 years toiling hard in my Engineering in Computer Science. Includingthree very successful internships at C-DOT, TCS and finally Kanbay. Been working in a coveted which pays me pretty well though I hate my job as such!
"Hone Hone de Nasha, Khone Khone ko hai kya,
Ek Saans main peeja, Zara Zindagi Chadha,
Hai yeh to yeh Jashan, Tu thidakne de Kadam,
Abhi saanson main hai Dum, Tu chalne de Kadam"
After my MBA I may pursue a Ph.D. or may join some Capital market research firm or an Investment Bank and this will be the beginning of my life-long infatuation with capital markets.
I will not compromise on my DREAMS. They are MINE for me to STRIVE, THRIVE and ACHIEVE. I am going to take what it takes in terms of effort and endurance. I will never BETRAY them or LET THEM DOWN.
Though going for an MS would be an easy exit, I would not do that because that is not what I see myself doing after 15 years, and 35 years hence I would not like to see myself being associated without my custom made career for an easier Over-The-Counter Ready-to-use one.
A step-by-step approach would be :
Go take the GMAT first and get a score in the nearest possible vicinity of 800.
So that the best of B-Schools Gun for me. Will make my move to meet that end then.
A Picture of the next place which I would like to call my DEN. Thats NASDAQ for you!